What Is Range In Poker? – Know Your Range, Know Your Opponent´s Range.

Range is one of the most important concepts in poker. What is range in poker, then? Basically, range means the hands you choose to play pre-flop. You should have a range for the hands you open raise with, call with and 3-bet with from each table position. In tournament poker, you also need a different range for different stack sizes. Just having a “common range” does not work in MTT poker. Sounds complicated? At first, it can be. But when you define your range, playing poker will get much easier.


Know Your Range.

Have you ever wondered whether you should bet or fold with a certain hand? Do you often find you´re not quite sure what to do on the table? Maybe you´re not sure what your range is. If you do n´t know what your own range is, chances are you don´t know what your opponent´s range is either. That is a good reason to define your range. Making decisions will get much easier, and you will have a much better idea about your opponent´s range as well.

Balance Your Range.a-house-of-cards

When you are building your range, you need to remember your range needs to be balanced. This means your range needs to have all kinds of hands, so you can represent you have hit the board on different kinds of flops.

Balancing your range means you need to open raise, call and 3-bet with different kinds of hands, so that your opponents ca n´t easily know your hand. If you only 3-bet with premium hands, your opponents can easily figure out you have the nuts and fold to your 3-bet. That´s why you should 3-bet with different kinds of hands, not only the premium hands.

A balanced range has pairs, Broadway cards and suited connectors; not only pairs and Broadway cards, for example. If we do n´t have hands like 98s in our range, we ca n´t represent any hand on a flop with only cards smaller than Broadway cards.

Know Your Opponent´s Range.

Even more important than knowing your own range, is defining your opponent´s range. It is essential to put your opponent on a range of hands. Many beginning poker players fail to do this, and just think about their own cards. Neither should you put your opponent on one particular hand, but a range of hands.

Pre-flop you can estimate your opponent´s range according to his or her position. If your opponent is capable of making decisions based on table position, his or her range of hands is tighter if he or she is playing from an early position. If you are playing online and use Poker Tracker or Hold´Em Manager, you can actually check your opponents stats to see how many hands he or she is playing from each position. Then you can estimate which hands they would be.

For example, if your opponent open raises 75% of hands on the button, these hands are likely to be the best 75% of hands. That´s a lot of hands, but if the players on the blinds are tight, you can actually open raise 75% of hands on the button to steal the blinds.

A 75% Raising Range Looks Approximately Like This.

You can also define your opponent´s range based on whether they open raised, limped, called or 3-bet their hand. Good players use the same bet size with all hands they play, but many bad players bet more when they have a strong hand. For example, if there is a player who normally bets 2 big blinds, and then he or she suddenly bets 5 big blinds, it is usually a sign that player has the nuts.

You should also pay attention to your opponent´s stack size in order to define his or her range. It is quite common, that many weak players, especially the tight weak players, min raise with nuts when they are short-stacked. For example, a player with 10 big blinds raises 2 big blinds from UTG. Usually a player who does this has the nuts, and he or she is hoping, obviously, that someone will make a 3-bet. This is not a very good strategy, because other players usually just fold since the min raiser is practically turning pocket aces face up by min raising with a 10 big blind stack.

Post-flop you can narrow down your opponent´s range based on his or her actions. You can also estimate how strong your hand is against your opponent´s range.

Let´s say the player who raises 75% of hands on the button, if there is no action before the button, raises on the button again. We are on the big blind and call with Q J .

The flop comes 3 Q ♠ 4 .

Against the button´s loose raising range, our hand is a huge favorite on this flop. We have 80% equity against the button.

Let´s think about the same situation, but now the raiser would be the lowjack (the fourth player to act pre-flop) with a tight range. The lowjack opens 10% of hands.

A Tight 10 Percent Raising Range Could Include These Hands.

We have Q J again.

The flop is also the same as in the previous example, 3 Q ♠ 4 ♦.

Are we still ahead against this tight player?

Yes, against the lowjack´s range we have 63% equity on this flop with our hand.

Position, Position, Position

Table position is so important in poker, that it should affect all your decisions, including the hands you play with. You want to play in position, so in a late position you can play more hands, and in an early position you can play fewer hands. That is why you need a different range for each table position.

Tight Or Loose?what-is-range-in-poker-high-cards

Most poker players naturally gravitate to a tight or loose range according to their personality. I don´t know if it has anything to do with my Asperger´s syndrome, but I´ve always been a tight player. Actually I´m too tight, since the standard play has become looser and looser over the years. Now I´m loosening my range, because I know I often play too tight.

You also need to adjust your range to the table you´re playing at, and the opponents you play against. On a loose table you need to play tighter and vice versa. On the tournaments I play at the moment, the opponents tend to be overly loose, so I can´t actually play as loose as the standard play is in today´s games. When I´ll move up in stakes, I will have to adjust, but for now I need to loosen my range just a bit.

Understanding Range Improves Your Game Massively.

I hope you now have a better idea, what is range in poker. Balance your own range by open raising, calling and 3-betting with different kinds of hands. Start thinking about your opponent´s range in each hand you play. Poker pros always think about their opponent´s range, and applying this way of thinking to your game will improve your results massively. You will also find it easier to make decisions at the table.

You need to adjust your range according to the table you play at, your table position and in poker tournaments, your stack size and your opponent´s stack size. I will talk about playing different stack sizes more in future posts, and ranges for different stack sizes will also be covered in those posts.

Have you had any problems knowing your own range or your opponent´s range? Do you find your range to be more on a tight or a loose side?

Comments 6

  • I’ve always used range when playing cards of any game but especially poker. I had never looked at it visually before, just used my knowledge of what is played and using tells and bets to estimate. Thank you for showing the probabilities and how to use them to our advantage!

    • Hi Colby,

      That´s great you are used to using range in your game. That already gives you an edge on poker. I find the visual hand chart helpful, and you can create those using Equilab, which I also used to make the charts on this post. You can also calculate your equity using Equilab, so it´s a very useful tool, and it´s free to download.

  • Hi, I would like to comment on this article. When I learned poker, I read a lot around online to find information. And this article is one of the better ones I’ve read. It’s very easy to understand, even for people who haven’t played poker before. You explain things in a simple and understandable way. Understanding and reading your opponent is quite important and placing them on a range. And of course you have to play with such a large range that you are not easy to exploit.

    I remember many beginners playing either with very narrow range or very loose range. They were both easy to crush, and easy-earned money. And many of them are more gamblers than skill players. They probably do not know that there are players there with software who automatically log how many cards they play, how many pots they win etc .. So the tightest players sit there giving away blinds while waiting for pairs of aces or kings lol

    Position is king, no doubt. When I understood it with position and that of placing the opponents on a range, I started to make money from it. So anyone who is serious about playing online poker should invest some time reading what you write here in this article. Some might find it fun to play and just go in to gamble, and may not be so conscious of it. But it is wise to educate yourself in most things you do 🙂

    • Hi,

      Thank you for your feedback! I´m so glad to hear you found my article easily understandable. I want to explain everything so that it is easy to follow, first of all because this is a website that keeps neuroatypical players in mind. With ADD, for example, you need a clear and easy-to-follow article to read, so that you can concentrate. It´s also helpful for beginning players.

      The great thing is, those beginning players with a super loose or super tight range are still playing all over the micro-stakes online tournaments. 🙂 They are very easy to beat, indeed. They are there to gamble and have fun, and probably many of them even think they play well, so they do n´t study any poker strategy. Even though anyone can become a winning player by putting some effort in studying the strategies.

      • Yes, it’s easy to read, but you can might test with you smartphone too and see how it is to read there. I think it is generally smart today to have a lot of air between the text and split up, because many read with their smartphones (small screens).

        Yes, it’s tempting to play a bit again. lol. Since you say there are still many beginners there.

         I was also a beginner when I started, limping and doing all these “mistakes”. And probably I thought I was really good when I won a pot here and there. But lost more than I won, not that I spent a lot of money. The strategy was probably more to wait for good cards and try to win a big pot or excessive bluffing. Of course, a simple prey for a more experienced player 🙂

        A little ironic, because I started playing because I read an article that making money playing against “fish” was easy. But I was the fish myself .. haha

        But noticed that some players usually did better than the others, and realized that I had to change strategy – and spent some time studying it.

        I read everything I came across online. And bought some books as well. I found some youtube movies that were very helpful. Seeing it in practice was very effective, so if you have time then it is probably not stupid to make youtube series about this too 🙂 Understanding concepts like initiative, position and range changed everything. And not least different types of players.

        Now, however, I have been focusing on cash games, and not so much on tournaments and strategies there. So there is still a lot to learn, I guess, if will start up again.

        The moral is: Do nothing without a reason and play good solid poker 🙂

        • Yes, I´m gonna have to check if my site works well on mobile too. I´ve mostly just worked on my laptop.

          Everybody have been beginners at some point, I know I also have been horribly fishy when I started playing poker. 🙂 Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to win, it´s of course smart to start studying poker strategy as soon as possible.

          Yes, in the micro-low stakes online poker games most of the field are still fish. I started with micro cash games, but now I mostly play just tournaments. But you should play whatever you find most interesting, tournaments or cash games. On the micro buy-in games the fish are still there in both tournaments and cash games. 🙂

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